The countdown to the OHSAA Tournament is officially under way for Medina Countyâ€™s seven boys basketball teams, with the first game tipping off in just over two weeks.
Each school received its postseason assignment Sunday afternoon at the Northeast District meeting at Copley High, where few surprises occurred but plenty of feathers were ruffled.
In other words, it was business as usual.
The only bit of suspense for the local contingent came at the Grafton Midview Division I assembly, where Brunswick and Elyria were the subjects of a spirited debate for the top seed.
The Blue Devils defeated the Pioneers in their lone matchup this season and had a more impressive resume of victories. On the flip side, Elyriaâ€™s win-loss record was better and it had the always-feared Lorain County voting block on its side.
Predictably, it came down to a single schoolâ€™s ballot as Brunswick won a 7-6 decision over its fellow Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division member.
Elsewhere, a very disappointing season throughout the county was reflected in the remaining schoolsâ€™ rankings. Black River earned the second-highest seed, but that was only eighth, meaning Brunswick was the lone team judged to be in the top half of its district.
Here is a glance at all the potential local sectional matchups, which feature a single-elimination format and begin Feb. 18:
Black River: Eighth seed at Elyria Division III District. Plays No. 6 Brooklyn, with winner meeting No. 2 Peninsula Woodridge. Outlook: The Pirates and Hurricanes played in early January, with Brooklyn winning by eight at home. But on any given night, either Patriot Athletic Conference squad could prove to be the better team. The game will be the tournament debut of Black River coach Bryan Morgan.
Brunswick: First seed at Grafton Midview Division I District. Plays No. 12 Cloverleaf or No. 8 Lorain Admiral King in a sectional final. Outlook: As usual, roughly half the Midview field is a legitimate contender, but the Blue Devils have been the best of the bunch. If they meet Elyria in the district final, the Pioneers will be favored after eliminating Brunswick the last two seasons.
Buckeye: Tenth seed at Stow Division II District. Plays No. 6 Copley, with winner meeting No. 4 Chagrin Falls Kenston or No. 11 Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit. Outlook: If the Bucks are healthy, they have a fighting chance against the Suburban League title-contending Indians. If Buckeye isnâ€™t, things could get real ugly, real quick. The schoolâ€™s last tournament win came in 2001 at Barberton.
Cloverleaf: Twelfth seed at Grafton Midview Division I District. Plays No. 8 Lorain Admiral King, with winner meeting No. 1 Brunswick. Outlook: The vastly improved Colts were a team no one wanted to play, which may explain their artificially low ranking (that is, if youâ€™re into conspiracy theories). They are explosive, dangerous and very capable of pulling off a pair of sectional upsets.
Highland: Thirteenth seed at Stow Division II District. Plays No. 5 Warrensville Heights, with winner taking on No. 3 Cleveland John F. Kennedy or No. 14 Mogadore Field. Outlook: The Hornets have won their first tourney game in each of coach Chris Kestnerâ€™s two seasons. Warrensville Heights, however, is a far cry from past victims Buckeye and Akron Coventry. Expect a fast-paced shootout.
Medina: Thirteenth seed at Grafton Midview Division I District. Plays No. 5 Strongsville, with winner taking on No. 3 North Olmsted. Outlook: There is no soft selling the situation. The Bees got an extremely difficult draw, putting them in the same half of the bracket with three of the top five entrants. Familiarity will be in Medinaâ€™s favor as it plays the Mustangs twice each year in league games.
Wadsworth: Tenth seed at Copley Division I District. Plays No. 8 Hudson, with winner taking on No. 2 Barberton. Outlook: Akron Firestone is the top seed and a heavy favorite to advance, while the survivor from the Grizzlies, Explorers and Magics sub-bracket is very likely to reach the district final. Wadsworth is the defending runner-up at Copley, giving it major momentum entering the event.
Dulik may be reached at BRISports@hotmail.com or 330-721-4059.